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Imagine Drowning

In spite of the storm, you grab the wheel of the boat, advance the engines to full, turn the front of the boat into the sea and sail it expertly to a calm, sunny, beautiful port.
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I posted this on my site the other day in the "Free Lobby" area and have had a really strong reply rate from people. This is resonating in a circle of people so I'm sharing it here too in hopes that whatever you're up to or against, whatever chaos or upset you run into, you'll remember that it's all a chapter in the story, not the story itself.

Ever see a ship afloat in a turbulent sea, with no captain on board, or no forward motion at all? Well, neither have I in real life, but I've seen it so often in movies and pictures that it's not hard to picture it in my mind. Try it now: Picture a small boat, tossed around on the water, tossing and turning as if it would capsize and sink to the bottom of the ocean ...

Now that you have that image, picture you on that boat, cold, wet, afraid and ready to drown from the water you're swallowing just from the waves before the boat goes down forever with you on it and no hope in sight. Picture the fear, feelings and sense of loss and let that feeling "sink" in ...

Thanks for staying with me this far. This exercise doesn't seem like fun, does it, but we'll change that now. As you're picturing the boat, let's keep it in that storm but now imagine that you're a capable, strong and "yar" captain. In spite of the storm, you grab the wheel of the boat, advance the engines to full, turn the front of the boat into the sea and sail it expertly to a calm, sunny, beautiful port full of good food, friends and comforts of all kinds.

This exercise may have seemed silly to you, or at least you might be wondering why I've asked you to do it. The point I'm trying to make is that you're doing it all of the time anyway, just maybe not so nautically.

When we worry about what might happen or what could happen, like "What if I lost my job?" or "Suppose I tell her/him that I love her and she/he doesn't say it back?" or "Suppose I try and fail?" we're already imagining ourselves as boats, captain-less and small, in the great big ocean of the world.

When we can think of more reasons "why not" than "why," we're continuing to indulge that version of ourselves as corks tossed about by circumstantial seas, what I call the "inconsistent-sea." We're using that brilliant imagination of ours to imagine the worst and that makes me think if the old Will Rogers quote, "Worrying is like paying on a debt that may never come due."

So instead of imagining the worst, like we started off doing, suppose we spend that energy and time figuring out what we would need to do, who we would need to be, to show up as that capable, confident and able captain, taking the controls and sailing ourselves to a wonderful place. That type of imagining is more like planning and strategizing and is a more powerful stance and a better use of time.

And along the way, how about considering those ports of safety in this inconsistent sea? I refer to my wife and a few good friends as my "islands of safety." They are the places I can go in any storm and feel safe or at least "load up" for a difficult journey. They serve as lighthouses and landmarks along the way, pointing the direction when I need help, when I'm not sure of where to go or what to do.

Today I want to say thanks to one of my "islands of safety," one of those friends I call when I need someone who can listen really well and who cares whether I'm living an authentic, powerful life, living the Biggest Possible Future I deserve. This friend, let's call him Gary Mills (mostly because that's his name) helped me look from outside the swirling storm, the rushing waters and reminded me that I'm a pretty good sailor if I remember to sail only one boat at a time. Thanks, Gary.

Now the blog/article is over but if you'd like, I'll throw in a life coaching exercise to help "anchor" it.

This is simple: make a list of all of those friends, relatives and people in your lives who play the role of "islands of safety." It's enough to just do the inventory and realize that they're there for you. It doesn't matter how big or small the list is: as long as there's even one person on it you've got a good start.

If there were a "Step Two," I'd say to write a nice note, email, or use some other means to contact them, say hello or in general pay a "port of call." You don't want to be only contacting them when you need them, it should be a two way street.

One last thing: Islands of safety can be activities too. Depending on what I need, I have a list of types of books that I like to read and I also paint and sculpt when I need to disengage that clunky machine I call a brain. Walks in the woods, on the beach, in the rain, etc. are all items that are on my "islands of safety list," and just doing that inventory of these items can help give you the sense of security we all need, the home port, to take on any trip, any journey, with confidence and strength.

PS: I just added a discussion for people to honor their 'islands of safety' in public; Honor YOUR Islands of Safety

You can find this original article and many more similar pieces by visiting the Lobby section of Do it Yourself Life Coach. Please visit me there ...